Can You Use Water When the Power is Out? (2024)

Have you ever thought about how many devices, appliances, and other things around your home use electricity? Well, if your power goes out, you definitely will but you wouldn’t be alone in asking, “Can you use water when the power is out?”. In most cases, plumbing appliances are safe to use during a power outage. You will still be able to use your toilets, shower, and sink but you should still be cautious. Does hot water work when power is out and can you flush the toilet? Our expert plumbers answer all your questions in this article.

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Can You Use Water When the Power Is Out?

This begs another question: if power goes out does city water still work? The answer is yes. If the power goes out, the city water should still work if you live in a single-family home. However, some apartment buildings and condos, even in a city, will not be able to use their water without power as most apartment buildings use water pumps.

Can You Use Water When the Power is Out? (1)

You can flush the toilet when the power is out but don’t expect to be able to use appliances like a washer or dishwasher. Those appliances rely on power to operate. However, your kitchen or bathroom faucets are still operational.

Types of Water Systems Affected by a Power Outage

While faucet water relies on gravity, several water systems use an electric pump to push water, in which case, your water will not run during a power outage. Even if your home draws water from a well, you may encounter issues. A typical well reservoir can hold 10 to 50 gallons, but without any power, you’ll only be able to use what’s available until it runs out. Here are some of the water systems affected by power outages.

  • Sump-pumps
  • Pump reliant toilets
  • Some sewer systems

If your home pumps water using any of these systems, then water will not work without electricity.

Types of Systems Not Affected by a Power Outage

Most cities pump their water into water towers, where it is then distributed throughout homes. The water tower is typically in an elevated area allowing water to flow by gravity, not electricity. Several appliances use gravity to supply your water needs, such as:

How Long Will the Water Run After a Power Outage

On average, you might expect water to continue flowing for around 6 to 12 hours after the power goes out. This is a rough estimate that varies significantly based on your water source, local conditions, and usage patterns. If you know your water source is well (which uses a pump), the municipal water supply pump, or is otherwise reliant on electricity, only use water when necessary.

Can You Use Water When the Power is Out? (2)

Can You Flush the Toilet When the Power is Out?

Yes, in most cases, you can still use the toilet when the power is out but to fully answer this question, we need another question: does the toilet use electricity? While most toilets rely on gravity to flush, some more recent toilet models do. Not only smart toilets may use electricity but also models that rely on a pump to operate won’t function during a power outage. If that is the case for yours, you’ll have a limited amount of flushes before it stops working.

But how many times can you flush a toilet without power? On average, you will only get one or two flushes after the power goes out before the tank runs out of water. Your home or building may have water in its pipes, but as soon as that water is gone, you’ll have to wait for power to come back. So, if the power goes out, make every flush count.

Can You Shower When the Power is Out?

Yes, you can usually shower when the power is out. However, you might not have hot water or at least a limited supply.

Your hot water heater can hold a significant amount of water, and with a power supply, can keep your water warm. But as soon as the power is out, you have about 1-2 hours before that water turns cold. The exception to this is a gas water heater. Your gas water heater will work without electricity.

Conclusion – Does plumbing work without electricity?

During a power outage, many plumbing appliances in your home, such as toilets, sinks, and showers, can still be used thanks to gravity-based water systems. However, it’s important to be mindful of the limited supply of water in your pipes and tanks. Appliances like washers and dishwashers, as well as certain toilet models that rely on electricity or pumps, may not function without power. Additionally, hot water availability may be limited, with gas water heaters being an exception.

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Can You Use Water When the Power is Out? (2024)
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